Tuesday, August 28, 2012

turkey bacon garlic mash & cheddar butter chicken//how to use leftovers.

Turkey Bacon Garlic Mash & Cheddar Butter Chicken
Usually, you list the meat of a meal first, but those mashed potatoes were too good to come in second place.
1.5 lbs Chicken Breast
1 cup Cheddar Cheese
10 slices Turkey Bacon
Garlic Salt to taste
2 tbsp Butter
Preheat oven to 350.
Start by preparing the Mashed Potatoes so you can get to work on the Chicken while the potatoes are boiling.
NOTE: I cut my Chicken Breasts in half to make more pieces; if you don't want to, keep in mind your Chicken will take longer to cook/bake. 
Heat up EVOO (approx. 2 tbsp) on medium heat in a nice big skillet.
When the pan is super hot, add your Chicken and brown all all sides for about 2 minutes each side.  Note:  I even set my Chicken up on it's side if they're particularly large; it gives it a nice even color.
Meanwhile, cook Turkey Bacon according to package.  When it cools off, cut into small pieces and add to your finished Mash along with Garlic Salt.  We LOVE garlic, so ours was pretty heavy on it and it was the bomb.
When your Chicken has a nice even color and is cooked about half way through, add it to a baking dish and stick in your preheated oven for about 30 minutes.  When that's done, pull the Chicken out and add a small bit of Butter to each and pinch of Cheddar Cheese to each.  Throw it all back in the oven for another 20 minutes.
This was a super hit.  And the best part?  The leftovers made really nommy
Open Faced Sammies
I'm gonna go ahead and make a pretty bold statement that will blow your mind and change your life:
All leftovers taste good on homemade Texas Garlic Toast topped with Gravy.  All leftovers.
For this meal, you just throw the Chicken and Mash from the last meal in a pot and heat it together.  Try to shred the Chicken a little more to make smaller, bite-sized pieces.
For the rest of the meal, you will need:
1/2 loaf of good, thick bread
2 tbsp Butter
Garlic Salt
1 can Beef Broth (or 2 cups)
1/4 cup Flour
1/4 cup Cold Water
1 packet Swanson Flavor Boost (optional, but these are awesome to have on hand)
S&P to taste
Cut thick slices of your nice and fresh bread and spread a thin layer of Butter.  Sprinkle Garlic Salt over all slices - a ton of it if you're us - and broil until brown and delish looking.
Meanwhile, in a skillet, bring your Beef Broth to a boil.  In a separate bowl, wisk together Flour and Cold Water.  When your Broth is nice and bubbly, s l o w l y add your Flour mixture, wisking in the pan constantly.  Last, add that Flavor Boost and some S&P.
Assemble the sammies!
1 slice Texas Toast
1 scoop Chicken/Mash Mixture
Topped with some Homemade Gravy.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

happiness part one.

So, here goes...
Happiness is fleeting.
It's momentary and it's circumstantial.
Happiness is not joy.

We may find temporary happiness in money, clothing, children, spouses, or starbucks, but if the basis of our well being and the condition of our souls is dependent on these things - these things that can be taken from us at any moment - what are we left with?
Contemptment, hatred, disdain, and unhappiness.
So, why do we place such incredible value on things we can never keep?
What are you going to do if your closet full of clothes catches fire or is stolen?
What are you going to do if you lose your high paying job?
What are you going to do when it turns out that your significant other changes his/her mind?
What is going to happen to these things when your time on earth is done?
Consider your source of contentment.

If you sit down and really think about it, it all seems so silly, so shallow, and so pointless.

I am not saying that we shouldn't be happy.
I'm not saying that we shouldn't appreciate and enjoy what we've been given.
I'm saying not to need it.
I'm saying not to seek happiness in stuff or people.
Stuff goes away and people let you down.

Instead of seeking what might make you temporarily happy, seek joy in Jesus in the form of kindness, love, & sharing the Gospel.

At church last Sunday, Pastor Bob said something that was incredibly hard-hitting;
he said we are all one of three people:
1.  The person who doesn't know Christ.
2:  The person that does know Christ and goes on his/her way allowing others to drown because they're 'happy' the way they are.

3.  The person who knows Christ and wants others to know him, too.

I know I have friends who read my blog who aren't believers; inspired by my love for these people, I've chosen to make my blog more Christ-centered.
I also know I have friends who read my blog who are believers, but think "to each his own!"

Believers, let me ask you this:
If you know there is a hole in the sidewalk of the path your friend is walking, but they don't believe it's there, would you tell them about it anyway?
Would you want your friend to tell you what they know about the hole up ahead?  Even if you don't believe it's there?

To be continued...

Friday, August 10, 2012

the 'me' generation.

So, here's the thing...
I've had a really hard time blogging lately.  The reason is because I have a different view of the whole blogging thing now.

When I stopped to focus on school, I also stopped reading most blogs in general unless something appealed to me on Facebook.  When I started reading them again, I was a bit startled by how many of the blogs I 'follow' are (seemingly) incredibly self-absorbed.  I actually can't read most of the blogs on my reading list anymore because I try to avoid things that cause me to feel negative and, honestly, I have gotten borderline frustrated while reading.

Before you get upset with me, I'm not saying ALL bloggers are self-absorbed and I AM saying that I have fallen under that category.  As unintentional as it may be, it's still there.  Something has just, very suddenly, started to rub me the wrong way.

So, basically I'm in a bit of a pickle here because I love writing and being silly and sharing my life, but

Am I patting myself on the back too much?
I know this has all changed because of my walk with Christ; that I can never share too much, so I'm cool with talking about it.  I also know that John Piper's "Don't Waste Your Life" is really speaking to me and LET ME TELL YOU it's been quite humbling and frustrating all at the same time.

It's not just in the blogger world, but every day conversations where I've started to notice how many people use the word 'I' or 'me.'  I've begun to notice how many people can turn conversation back to themselves, how many people make choices because based on what's easiest for them, and how many people get frustrated when things don't go the way they wanted them to.

Again, I'm not excluding myself here.
Every time I get annoyed about doing something that is for the better good of my family, there's a bit of selfishness involved.

We shouldn't do things for people because it's our 'role' or because we have to, we should do things for people because we love them.

The quicker we get away from thinking or saying "Why should I?" or "What's in it for me?" or "How can I be the happiest?" and begin by reminding ourselves that we should be driven by love, the less frustration, anger, and grudges we will have.

And that is truly freeing.

The good thing is, all of this is beginning to make me much more aware of my own actions and reactions to people.  The bad thing is, it's also beginning to make me much more aware of other's actions and reactions.

I know I can't control what other people do, but I can definitely change my own actions and I can encourage other people to consider others before themselves.

So, here's my encouragement:
Think before you act/react.

Is it really that serious that your significant other leaves dirty socks on the couch?  I mean, it's gross, but it's not that serious.
Should you really buy that super expensive shirt (or whatever) because you soooo deserve it...even though you can't pay your credit card bill?
Should you really tailgate the person in front of you for going slowly and pass them whilst giving the finger because they had the audacity to keep you up?  Are you really so special that it's okay to cut someone off because you have somewhere to be?
Do your kids really deserve to get yelled at for whatever slightly annoying thing he/she is doing today?
Does your coworker really deserve that attitude?
Does anyone really deserve that attitude?

Just for a day, try to put someone else's wants/needs before your own.
And don't just say you are, really do it.
Having a servant's heart isn't the same as not caring about yourself.
I know it sounds weird, but giving (physically and emotionally) until it hurts is probably one of the greatest feelings ever.

Stay tuned for my post on how the most important thing in life isn't to be happy.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

cheater chocolate chip muffin balls.

I promised to post these last week when I made them.
I lied and I'm very sorry about that.

My mom got me a cool little gadget for my birthday that will make quick treats even quicker!
I looooove that!

I cheated very much when I made these muffin balls; I didn't even use my own recipe for muffins.  Harris Teeter had these Martha White ones on sale for $0.99, so I grabbed a few.

Cheater Chocolate Chip Muffin Balls

1 package Muffin Mix (or your own recipe)
Whatever else the package calls for
Awesome Cake Pop Maker

I literally just greased up my Pop Maker with a little vegetable oil and waited about 5 minutes for each batch to complete cooking.

That's all I did!
This hardly counts as a real recipe, but I am way out of the blogging loop (thanks to school!), so it's a great start.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

my pseudo sister, rachel.

Bridesmaid #4!

Rachel isn't a blood relative, but I call her my sister anyways.
She's brilliant, kind, beautiful, and I never thought twice about her being in my wedding.

Ode to Rachel

Girl is a smarty pants,
She makes me super proud!
She makes me do a happy dance
and by her I'm ever wowed.

She doesn't just stop at genius, though;
She's also quite a beaut.
When I brag about my sister,
Her whistle I gladly TOOT!

She's quite the spunky monkey
and makes me laugh like a nut;
She's the good kinda funky
and gets me out of my rut.

This picture will always be funny,
but you had to be there.
It's a memory with my Rachey
that we'll forever share.

Her hair is always a different color,
She likes to keep it versatile.
I liken her to my owl shirt
that used to always make me smile.

You're officially part of the family,
which might make you a little afraid.
I can't wait for you to stand by me
as my 3rd sister bridesmaid.

I love you, Rachel!
You make me so proud!

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

2012 so far.

If you recall, I made a

list of resolutions a billion days ago.
Then, I added a few more.

Let's update on those, shall we?

1.  I am not sure if I'd call myself a 'running freak,' and school caused about a 4 week exercise slump, but I am hanging in there.  I have been running/jogging/walking more than I ever have in my 27 (almost 28!) years of life.  That counts for something, right?

2.  Big Steve and I have done a better job at implementing date night.  We've had 2 weekends away from Stevie and a couple of nights out on the town together.  That is significantly more than we've even attempted since the little one was born.  Hecks yes.

3.  Spend $100 or less on groceries per month.  Well, I added up the money I've spent on groceries this year and it comes to around $960, which averages out to be about $150/month.  SOOO, that needs some work and is where keeping up with cash envelopes would really come in handy.  Mental note - check!

4.  I've been keeping up with school and focusing on the future 'school goals,' all while not failing chemistry.  Success?  I think so.  Microbiology is right around the corner, though...

5.  Sewing?  What's that?  Needless to say, I haven't made time for sewing...YET!

6.  I haven't taken Stevie to many fun places yet this year on Fridays.  I had so many plans to take him to the museums and to the zoo, but it hasn't really panned out that way.  I have, however, been making more fun at home with him.  I gotta get that kid out more.

7.  I added a last minute goal for the year to not to spend money on clothes.  I've 'window shopped' a lot, both online and in the store, but I've actually been very successful in this area.  I managed to get a hole in my beloved VS black yoga pants, so I bought a new pair at Target.  I also found some shoes that reminded me of my Grandma and purchased those.  That's it, though!  Totaling around $40 for clothes and we're already more than half way through the year!  I am particularly proud of this one.

8.  Channeling my emotions into something other than breaking down and crying has proven to be quite the challenge for someone who is used to crying over everything.  Luckily, God interfered here and gave me the obvious solution:  Him.

I was reflecting on my year and my goals and realized how strange it was that not a single one of my goals included Jesus.  Feeling a leeeetle bit humbled today as I write to tell you that the largest change that has been made in my life has been my walk with Jesus.

Sure, I've managed to stick to my goals, but we so often forget that everything is from Him.  Would I be able to have date night without family willing to watch Stevie so we can spend time alone?  Would I be able to go to school if I didn't get grants from the school to pay for my education?

Perspective is incredible.

I actually have so much to share here, so much that has been laid on my heart, and so much to write praises about.

My relationship with Christ will alter my blogging significantly.
I'll still be my charming, lovely self and I will still share my cooking skillz and $ saving tricks, but with a different ultimate goal in mind.

How cool that my little break from blogging has given me time to reflect on so much more than school and has added so much to my testimony of faith.
Well played, God.  Well played.
I'm feeling pretty excited about sharing it all with you, so stick around!

 So do not be ashamed of the testimony about our Lord or of me his prisoner. Rather, join with me in suffering for the gospel, by the power of God. He has saved us and called us to a holy life—not because of anything we have done but because of his own purpose and grace. This grace was given us in Christ Jesus before the beginning of time,  but it has now been revealed through the appearing of our Savior, Christ Jesus, who has destroyed death and has brought life and immortality to light through the gospel.

2 Timothy 1: 8-10

Monday, July 9, 2012

spicy shrimp pasta.

Spicy Shrimp Pasta

2 lbs Uncooked Frozen Shrimp
1 cup Water
1 cup Vinegar
4 tbsp Old Bay Seasoning
1/2 box Whole Wheat Rotini
1 jar Alfredo Sauce
1 cup Spaghetti Sauce
2 cups Frozen Broccoli

Begin by bringing the Vinegar and Water to a boil in a large pot.  When boiling, add Old Bay Seasoning and stir in Shrimp.  Cover and let steam for about 3 minutes (or until pink).  This super easy recipe can be found on the back of your can of Old Bay Seasoning.

Meanwhile, bring another pot of water to boil and cook Rotini until al dente.
Drain and return to pot with Alfredo Sauce and Spaghetti Sauce.
Stir in Frozen Broccoli.

I peeled all the Shrimp for our dinner, but didn't add it to the pasta until after I set aside a few servings for Little Steve; it was a tad bit spicy for his tiny pallet.

The Verdict:
Must've been good because Stevie ate every last bite.

In other news - I should be back to blogging regularly starting next week!
I can't believe we're more than half way through 2012.
More than that, I can't believe how well I've done with my New Year's Resolutions.

To be continued...